The National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP) is a national strategic program led by the U.S. Library of Congress to preserve digital content. The program was mandated in 2000 by the U.S. Congress, and the Library is forming a national network of committed partners with defined roles and responsibilities that are dedicated to preserving specific types of digital content that is at risk of loss if it is not preserved now.
The preservation of digital content has become a major challenge for every culture and nation, especially for libraries and archives who seek to preserve a certain intellectual and cultural heritage. In the U.S., the Library of Congress began to develop a digital strategy with a group of senior managers who were charged with assessing the roles and responsibilities of the Library in the digital age. This oversight group was headed by the Associate Librarian for Strategic Initiatives, the Associate Librarian for Library Services, and the Register of Copyrights. Formed in 1998, this group held several planning meetings to assess the current state of digital archiving and preservation.
NDIIPP defines its mission as:
Develop a national strategy to collect, archive and preserve the burgeoning amounts of digital content, especially materials that are created only in digital formats, for current and future generations.
In December 2000, U.S. Congress appropriated $100 million (rescinded to $99.8 million) for a national digital-strategy effort, to be led by the Library of Congress. The Library was chosen not only because of its mission to "sustain and preserve a universal collection of knowledge and creativity for future generations," but also because of its role as one of the leading providers of high-quality content on the Internet. As other countries also seek to preserve their own digital histories, the global community can learn from the strengths and challenges of programs such as this one spearheaded by the U.S. Library of Congress.
The National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP) is a collaborative program working with higher educational institutions, libraries, archives, federal agencies, and technological organizations. NDIIPP set five goals:
Maps, movies, sound recordings, Web sites and databases that will provide a record for history are being created only in digital form. The NDIIPP partners are saving this information for future generations.
The task of saving our digital heritage is too large for a single library or archive to do alone. By working together, preservation partners can leverage the network’s collective body of knowledge as well as save more content.
Technology is changing rapidly but it is also useful for saving digital information. Tools and services are being developed to help libraries and archives manage, store and retrieve digital information.
There are laws and public policies that can support and encourage the saving of digital information. One of the biggest hurdles for libraries and archives is how to preserve and make available digital materials. We are tackling the very difficult challenges of copyright through a special working group of intellectual property law experts assembled from both the public and private sectors.
Digital cameras, the Internet and portable music devices give everyone an opportunity to create and distribute digital information. Saving that information has become everybody’s task.
The U.S. Library of Congress has been a pioneer in the field of digital information. Even before there was a World Wide Web, the Library was digitizing and making selected items from its collections available in electronic form. The program was called American Memory, and it began as a pilot in 1990. American Memory was originally a CD-ROM project, in which discs were distributed to 44 schools and libraries across the country to determine whether there was any interest in being able to access important materials relating to American history from the Library's collections. By the time the pilot concluded in 1994, there was ample evidence that many people wanted these materials and they wanted more of them.
When the public Web became widely available in 1994, the materials that were distributed on CD-ROM could now be accessed much more widely with this emerging distribution tool. American Memory debuted on the Web on Oct. 13, 1994.
American Memory helped fulfill the goal of Dr. James H. Billington, who came to the Library in 1987 with the objective of making the riches of the Library accessible to all Americans, not just those who could come to Washington. As of 2007, more than 11 million items from the collections of the Library and other repositories are available from American Memory, and the Library's Web site is one of the most popular in the federal government.
The Library continues to digitize its collections for distribution on the Web and it has since developed several other Web sites, including Thomas, a congressional database; America's Library, a site for kids and families; the Wise Guide, a monthly magazine; Exhibitions, which offers online versions of major Library exhibitions; and Global Gateway, which features the international collections of the Library and its partners.
Librarian of Congress James H. Billington commissioned the National Research Council Computer Science and Telecommunications Board of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to evaluate the Library's readiness to meet the challenges of the rapidly evolving digital world. The NAS report, LC 21: A Digital Strategy for the Library of Congress, recommended that the Library, working with other federal and nonfederal institutions, take the lead in a national, cooperative effort to archive and preserve digital information.
The U.S. Congress has asked the Library of Congress to lead a collaborative project, called the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program. In December 2000, Congress passed special legislation (Public Law 106-554) in recognition of the importance of preserving digital content for future generations, appropriating $100 million to the Library of Congress to lead this effort. (A government-wide rescission of .22 percent in late December 2000 reduced this special appropriation to $99.8 million.)
This effort falls within the Library's mission, which is "to make its resources available and useful to Congress and the American people and to sustain and preserve a universal collection of knowledge and creativity for future generations." This mission extends to materials in electronic formats as well. In addition, the Library is the home of the U.S. Copyright Office and is thus already engaged in issues relating to copyright in a digital environment.
The National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program is a cooperative effort. The Library is working closely with partners to assess considerations for shared responsibilities. Federal legislation calls for the Library to work jointly with the Secretary of Commerce, the director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the National Archives and Records Administration. The legislation also directs the Library to seek the participation of "other federal, research and private libraries and institutions with expertise in the collection and maintenance of archives of digital materials," including the National Library of Medicine, the National Agricultural Library, the Research Libraries Group, the Online Computer Library Center and the Council on Library and Information Resources.
The Library is also working with the non-federal sector. The overall strategy is being executed in cooperation with the library, creative, publishing, technology and copyright communities. In early 2001 the Library established a National Digital Strategy Advisory Board to help guide it through the planning process. This board is made up of experts from the technology, publishing, Internet, library and intellectual-property communities as well as government.
The Library has also established a working group to look at ways that current copyright law can address how libraries and archives handle digital materials when preserving them and making them available to users.
Included in the 67 partners (as of March 2007) are eight consortial partnerships comprising 33 institutions that are selecting, collecting and preserving specific types of digital content:
Dot Com Archive
International Internet Preservation Consortium
National Geospatial Digital Archive
North Carolina Geospatial Data Archiving Project
Preserving Digital Public Television
Web at Risk
All links retrieved December 22, 2014.
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